Out of ammo

As you may have heard by now, Doomtown:Reloaded is being discontinued. As part of the design team for the past 3 years, it’s been a rough but wonderful ride and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved in terms of balance and gameplay.

Unfortunately the writing was on the wall at this point as event attendance had slumped, and online activity was barely existent. Even with some of the best tools available for a card game, in the form of DoomtownDB and OCTGN for online gameplay – things that are not given for most card games – it seemed like we were struggling to retain people’s interest. Of course I’m speaking only as an observer since I don’t really have an insight into sales records of any sort, but it felt to me that the past 6 months were more anemic than is healthy.

So while sad, I can’t say I’m horribly surprised by this turn of events. Nevertheless, the upcoming expansions are some of the best we’ve put out until now, and the final Pine Box’s new homes will open a lot more avenues for gameplay as well.

I plan to write a “post-mortem” from my perspective on Doomtown:Reloaded, so keep an eye out if you’re interested.

How to make custom markers for card games

In ActionI’ve recently started teaching/playing Doomtown:Reloaded using some proxies I’ve printed out and one of the few things that are kinda annoying in the card pool, is that there’s a significant amount of card effects which one has to track manually because either the originating card was an action that was discarded, or because it’s an effect from a deed or spell which has to remain in its original location, and cannot be used to track the effect.

So for example, one of your dudes moves to Charlie’s Place and grabs +2 bullets, then a few plays later they’re hit by a noon Blood Curse, and after an amount of maneuvering later, you end up in a shootout. Now you have to remember that +2 bullets and that -1 bullet effects, plus any Sun In Yer Eyes and so on,that you may get in the shootout itself before calculating your bullet bonuses. And finally at the end of the turn you also have to remember that -1 influence from Blood Curse as well. Let’s just say that is can easily lead to mistakes…

Now, Doomtown:Reloaded will come with more than influence, control and ghost rock counters. It will also come with a bunch of double-sided generic counters which you can use to track other effects, such as the aforementioned ones (and generally shotoout effects are fairly easy to remember since they last so little), but you’d still have to remember that the green star is a blood curse, and the grey skull is an extra bullet etc. Still leaves room for mistakes.

A few weeks ago, I was at a Android:Netrunner game night, and one player had this cool little plastic tokens that he created to add custom markers, instead of using his own cards, such as parasite tokens on cards instead of his parasite card, or personal workshop tokens to remember which of his cards are still in the workshop, and so on. It was a really nifty idea but I thought that it was a wasted potential in Netrunner because it has very little things one needs to track manually ((This is actually one of my favourite designs. I find that the way they’re dealing with increasing or resident effects to be brilliant! Basically what they do in ANR is that almost any effect which stays at the table is always represented with a card, and any variable changes on top of that is represented with a marker upon the card which explains the effect itself. This way one can always understand the state of the game just by looking at the state of the cards on the table, even if they just tuned in to the game. )) other than the occasional Femme Fatale marker or Uroboros effect which are few and short enough not to cause any issues.

In Doomtown however, where noon-long effects are fairly common ((fortunately we got rid of card memory shenanigans)) these kind of tokens are a great idea. So using the information that it’s simple coin capsules (used by collectors mostly) I researched a bit online started preparing.

For my Coin Capsules, I went with the 20mm ones from Unicorn, which at 12 euro for a 100, means 0.12 cents each. Not bad for simple plastic. Their size is fitting for a 10cent euro coin, which I felt was sufficiently large to show the card art in the marker, without being so large that it obscures the card itself or leaves no space for other counters.

(Here I’m going to explain how I prepared everything from the start. If you just want to see how to simply print your own based on what I made, skip to the “Making your own custom markers” part.)

Once they arrived, I opened the card art and took a screenshot of the area I wanted to make into a marker, I passed that into GIMP, made a perfect circle selection of exactly the area I needed, then cut that into a new image (to remove the rest of the art), resized it to 60 px (which prints out to roughly 21mm) and finally created a white image in gimp at A4-paper size, and pasted the resized marker in there.

I repeated the procedure with 14 other cards ((of which blood curse was one I did two times with two different art sections, to keep track of the two different spell effects)) that I felt created resident effects often enough. This created a double row of markers 7-wide +1 marker on the side which I didn’t need so many of. Finally I copy-pasted that double row 4 more times, to get 4 of each marker in the same page and thus have enough to use on the rare occasions where I get to use multiple of that effect in the same turn (or if my opponent is running some at the same time)

I finally exported from GIMP in .pdf format which would make sure the images print out at exactly the dimensions I put in the paper.

Making your own custom markers

2014 - 1So if you want to make your own markers using the ones I’ve already prepared, first you need to get yourself some coin capsules. You can prolly buy them in any hobby story, or just use the same item I got on Amazon. Afterwards print out my A4 page with the markers and cut them.

Since you can create each marker double-sided, what I did is put two different markers per capsule’s side. I chose cards which are unlikely to be together at the same time in multiple numbers, so as to avoid having a situation where I needed 2 from one side and 3 of the other side.

My pairs were:

  • Blood Curse 1/ Blood Curse 2 (The two different effects of the spell)
  • War Paint / Unprepared (Value difference of 6 means unlikely to be in the same straight flush draw structure)
  • Sun in Yer Eyes / Stakes Just Rose (Same Value)
  • Pinned Down / Make the Smart Choice (Value difference of 5 means less chance to be in the same straight flush draw structure)
  • Bad Company / Hiding in the Shadows (Same Value)
  • Rumors / Charlie’s Place (Influence Reduction tends not to me used in the same decks which care about boosting their bullets)
  • Yan Li’s Tailoring / Morgan Research Institute (Spell/Gadget decks unlikely to run deeds at 3 value)
  • Kevin / Kevin (just double sided solo marker for Kevin’s Ability)

Feel free to make your own pairs if you think something is more appropriate.

When putting the images in the capsule, you’ll notice that one side will not fit exactly, while the other will have space remaining. This is normal since the capsule needs some space to lock itself in place. To put the 21mm marker in the 20mm space, I simply used a 10cent coint to squeeze it in, and while I lost a little bit of circumference it’s not noticeable at all on the final marker. And the extra size on the larger size ensures the image is held into place on the capsule’s face, rather than just falling to the bottom.

This was my end result

Complete Look

I think the result is pretty neat, and in a mock setup I’ve done, the custom markers fit very comfortable among all the other cards and normal markers. Of course one has to have the art memorized to know what each custom marker does, but after a few plays that should be fairly easy. I do think a good improvement might be to include a small icon on each marker’s art that is like “+2 bullet”, or “-1 influence”,  or “turned into draw” etc. Maybe something for the future or someone better than me could arrange it and share the results with everyone (I can provide my GIMP sources on demand)

To cover all of Doomtown:Reloaded’s important resident effects I used only 29 capsules so far, so I’m left with 71 more. More than enough to re-use for other games, or for new Doomtown:Reloaded abilities as expansion come out.

My guide on how to play classic Doomtown with a Reloaded meta.

Now that a lot of the cards of Doomtown:Reloaded have been spoiled, I’m seeing a lot of people expressing an interest in teaching their friends how to play Doomtown by using the new rules but old cards, since those are what is available. Many simply prepare normal Doomtown decks, and simply stay within the rules of deck construction (no more than 4 cards of the same suit & value) as well as using the new casualties and avoiding card types which are not available, such as Events and Improvements.

While this goes a long way to approach the feel of the new game and see how the new rules play out, unfortunately the costs of deeds and dudes, as well as the availability of various spell effects can easily throw the delicate balance out of whack compared to what one will experience when playing Doomtown:Reloaded using only its own card pool. It is still quite easy to build degenerate decks using Doomtown:Reloaded rules that are boring or impossible to play against.

So, in this post, I wanted to provide my own personal home-rules on how to tweak your deck construction and costs in card in classic Doomtown, to get an experience that more closely approaches what you’ll find when playing Doomtown:Reloaded. This is all completely unofficial and merely approximation of what is available in DTR. I don’t guarantee perfect results, but I hope you’ll find it useful both when teaching new players or when you check things out as returining ones

Deck Construction

  • No more than 4 cards of the same suit and value
  • No events or improvements or cards which refer to the fear rating.
  • No more than 4 total production out of town among all your deeds. No more than 1 control point out of town among all your deeds.
  • All In-Town deeds should have control points (and optimally, abilities as well)
  • No more than 1 spell that reduces influence (i.e. you can put 4x Blood Curse in your deck, but not also 4x Babble On)
  • No more than 1 action that reduces Influence
  • No card effects which prevent movement to specific locations, or prevent targeting dudes, or prevent call-0uts.
  • No non-deed card effect which provides ghost rock without being a job or requiring your dude to be outside your home in some fashion (that means, no original Blackjacks outfit)
  • No card effect which provides Victory Points
  • No card effect which can ace or discard dudes without it requiring the dude causing it to be in the shootout, or in the same location. (that means, no Ezzie)
  • No card effects which destroy deeds or reduce control points in any way.

Cost/Upkeep tweaking

  • 2 Ghost Rock blanket discount for all in-town deeds. This means that Pony Express would cost 3.
  • No deed has upkeep. Any deed with upkeep now has 0 production instead.
  • All dudes with 2 or more influence have at least 1 upkeep. (I.e. a dude with 2 inf, 0 bullets which costs 4 and had 0 upkeep, now costs 4 and has 1 upkeep.)
  • All dudes with 2 or more stud bullet or 3 or more draw bullet, have at least 1 upkeep.
  • Any dude who has a combined stud bullets and influence of 4 or more, requires at least 2 upkeep if they don’t already.
  • All spells cost 1 Ghost Rock to bring into play
  • All deeds with abilities provide their ability to their controller always. Never just the owner.

All other Doomtown:Reloaded rules apply. This means, no extra card for most influence at Nightfall, new casualty rules etc.

Let me know how your experience with decks made and played under these home rules feel.



Apparently the LackeyCCG admins don't like competition.

The mods of LackeyCCG apparently don’t like people knowing about alternatives to their program.

Now that my Doomtown plugin for OCTGN is at a very good level, I decided to go to the LackeyCCG fora to let any Doomtown enthusiasts that may be using the (frankly inferior) Doomtown plugin there, about the one I have created. I was cautious that this might not be good netiquette, but both systems and plugins are free and there’s no real competition between them. It’s not like either of them will lose money from someone preferring the other version.

Well apparently the mods of the board don’t see it this way. My reply here was deleted without notice, one assumes because someone got upset that I was promoting a “competing” card engine. This is shameful on the part of the LackeyCCG admins who should be looking to help the community have the best experience in card games, not try to hoard it to themselves.

I left another reply. Looking forward to have it deleted now…

EDIT: I was correct in my assumption that my comment was deleted because I posted a competing plugin. The main developer of Lackey sent me the following PM
You aren't allowed to discuss competing programs on my forum. If you have a suggestion for me to improve Lackey, please post the suggestion.

A game of Doomtown in action

Managed to play a game of Doomtown on OCTGN and thought I’d share a nice screenshot of the game in action.

I just managed to finish my first Doomtown on OCTGN on the latest version ((I’d managed to play a few full games back on 0.2.7 or something and a few games where my opponent’s PC crashed in the middle of the game with recent versions)) with Eloi who is also a maintainer of games for OCTGN. In fact, the reason we started playing is because I found a way to create larger capital cards for Warhammer:Invasion ((OCTGN is limited at the moment in the sense that you can only have one size of cards.)) and I contacted him about it in case he wants to use it. I mentioned Doomtown and he was interested to try it, so we did.

Fortunately he had skype because otherwise my fingers would be raw from all the typing. As it is, I’m just really really thirsty from all that talking 🙂

So yeah, we did a learning session and it worked fabulously! So I wanted to share with all of you a screenshot I took as the game was nearing its end. I think it looks great.


I was playing Texas Rangers. He was playing my bicycle Sweetrock deck. MacNeil became an unstoppable beast!

So if any you out there manage to play a game and get into a nice situation, do take a screenshot and send it over for me. Maybe I can make a “best moments” gallery 😉


Full Bundle for Doomtown on OCTGN updated

Torrent has been updated with newest rules and more High Quality scans. Gogogo!

I’ve updated the torrent for Doomtown to include the latest version of the game definition and markers and also the latest versions of the sets, which I’m glad to say, have finally started including High Quality scans.

For those who do not know, the Bundle includes everything you need to play Doomtown on OCTGN but it’s not updated as often, as usually only the game definition is updated. Nevertheless it’s the best way for a new player to grab everything they need, without downloading all the files 1 by 1 from the repository. Inside you will find the game and sets, plus pdfs with the rules, faqs and so on. Once you’ve downloaded it, you can simply direct OCTGN to install the files from that the directory, and if in the future you download a newer version of the bundle, your game on OCTGN will be automatically up to date (( Usually you don’t have to reinstall the files, but one occassion you do. I will let you know when you have to))

So don’t wait up, download the torrent file here and you can find information about the bundle in the forums.

Once you’re done, hit me up for a game 😉


Doomtown on OCTGN

Doomtown on OCTGN is now very feature rich and playing it should be a blast for most. Here I explain how to set it up and why it’s so cool.

So my updated on the Doomtown engine for OCTGN continue at a rapid pace. I mentioned it before shortly but I thought I’d make a proper post about my progress with this and how to go around playing it.

EDIT @ 27/06/2013 : I’ve moved the installation instructions on to the dedicated page for this game definition. Please follow the step-by-step installation instructions for Doomtown there.

A Doomtown game in OCTGN in action. Currently in the middle of a shootout
A Shootout at High Noon

Not especially tricky as you can see. The trickiest is finding someone to play with. You can try subscribing to the Doomtown Facebook Group and see if anyone is available for a game. You can also create a game and hope that someone is online to join it since anyone who has Doomtown installed will see open game lobbies.

However I guarantee that if you like card or tabletop games, you will find this one a blast. In the recent weeks I’ve spent a lot of effort in automating away most of the more tedious stuff one has to do when playing card games online, such as modifying counters and typing each action that they do in the chat. I’ve literally spent the latter half of my vacation (while staying home sick) to code some pretty nifty stuff to use the powers that playing on a PC gives us in order to make the game easier to play.

For example, the game will let you know if you cannot play a unique card, because someone else has it in play (or it’s dead). It will automatically calculate your poker hand rank, taking into account jokers and what kind of poker you play. It will update your various totals (influence, control) as you play and lose cards and you can even force it to recalculate all your totals in case you lose track. It will pay your upkeep and receive your production at the start of the turn, and refresh your cards and hand at the end of the turn. It will even remember if you permanently modified a card before and add the same modifications in case that card leaves and comes back into play later on.

There’s still a lot of automation I’d like to implement soon and I keep thinking more as I work on it so I end up adding new features practically daily. You can follow the development in the forum if you so wish and I would really appreciate any feedback such as suggestions or problems you’re having.


Blasts from the past

Doomtown is one of the best tabletop games ever and as always in this case, it’s defunct. However, I’ve just created a new way to play it online.

The back of a Doomtown card. It shows a wooden background with the words "Deadlands" printed in an old western font. A Cow skull is in the middleI always say that I’ve been very unlucky with the (non-video) games that I liked. I have a deep history of getting really into a game and then have it cancelled during its heyday due to some weird unfortunate circumstance, leaving me sad and looking for the next one that will “click” for me. Now I’m talking about the kind of games most of you have not ever even tried before, Collectible Card Games and Tabletop Miniature games primarily (Fortunately, RPGs cannot suffer this fate due to the inherent type of the medium, but they do suffer the Three Session Curse which is  thing for another post)

At the moment, none of my favourite such games are in production anymore, most of them for many years now. In order of how awesome I find them, here’s a small list and what happened to them.

  • Doomtown: A brilliant card game with a very novel take on game design combining elements of traditional CCGs, Poker and Chess. Got cancelled because Wizards of the Coast egregiously dropped the ball/killed it.
  • Chronopia: A tabletop miniature game set in very grim-dark fantasy theme, when grim-dark was not yet in fashion. Killed when its company reconstructed, even though it had strong sales.
  • 7th Sea: Another collectible card game with a novel ruleset and a fantasy-swashbuckling setting. Died due to a series of bad decisions from the publisher
  • Warzone: The brother tabletop miniature game to Chronopia which had a similarly grim-dark theme but in sci-fi. Killed for the same reasons,which was an especially sad fact as at the time it was a very strong opponent to Games Workshop’s exorbitant prices in the Greek market.
  • Mordheim: Because I’m a sucker for skirmish games with strong campaign elements built-in. Suffered the same fate all Games Workshop products which are not Warhammer or WH40k suffer.
  • Dune CCG: Yet another card game built on a rich sci-fi setting and with rules that fit brilliantly in the setting. Was just not popular enough to continue.
  • Legend of the Burning Sands: A card game similar to Legened of the 5 rings, but simply superior in gameplay.

And these are not even all the examples I can think of but they were definitely the ones who’s passing hurt me most. This occurrence is so common that it became almost a running joke in my gaming circle that any game that I started taking a strong liking to, would be inevitably doomed. The games on the other hand that managed to survive where those that I played just in order to have *something* to play, but never liked them particularly. Games like Warlord which I found had a very good setting but never really liked its rules ((Incidentally,  liking only it half-way, just delayed the inevitable, as Warlord has been suffering a slow death for many years now))

The good thing is that because these games I listed are just so good, they tend to develop cult followings behind them which can keep their embers alive far into the future and sometimes this helps.

I recently discovered a little game engine called OCTGN which allows one to build card game definitions and then play their favourite games on it for free, and given that I’ve been itching to play doomtown once more, this sounded like an excellent opportunity. Unfortunately there was no game definition for doomtown available and I took this chance to build one.

Yes, I am aware that there is a plugin for doomtown on the LackeyCCG engine, but I’ve tried it once and I was left a bit underwhelmed. After experiencing OCTGN, LackeyCCG just felt clunky (the program actually strained my eyesight during play) and it didn’t really offer any automation. I’m guessing that one could theoretically code such automation in LackeyCCG just as one can in OCTGN but on the other hand, OCTGN just looks better and as a very big plus for me, it does its scripting in python, which I’ve been itching to start working with.

So OCTGN it was, and after a whole weekend of trial and error I’ve managed to make a working game definition which I’ve been refining for the last few days as well. At the moment I’m happy to say that the game is completely playable and this is where the aforementioned core community comes in, as it can provide the people and the excitement to spread the joy. You can find the game files for the Doomtown CCG here btw and you can also follow updates on the forum. Hit me up 🙂

Once I’ve brought the game into as good a state as I possibly can, I think I’ll start working on 7th Sea or Legend of the Burning sands.

As usually when I get into this mood, I also checked up on some of my other favourite games, but unfortunately, Chronopia has not fared nearly as well as doomtown. I keep hoping that one day, once 3D printing technology is cheap enough, the game will be revived via allowing the sharing of model schematics and terrain. Until then, here’s some concept art that a fan created in the fora of a company which I don’t think even exists anymore 🙂

A Fan drawing of a Blackblood Army in the Chronopia universe

A Fan Drawing of a Devout army in the Chronopia universe.